I STRUGGLE if I don’t have my morning coffee. I wouldn’t last long without sugar or survive on the paleo lifestyle.
So five years ago, when I committed to a month without alcohol my friends didn’t think I could do it. To their surprise, I’ve kept it up.
One month became two and three, then a year passed and now I’ve gone five years without alcohol.
The truth is, it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It didn’t take that much effort and I’m a healthier and happier person for it.
Over a cocktail in April 2012 a friend challenged me to a month of sobriety. I laughed, looked in her eyes and knew my competitive edge would win out.
I got up and ordered my now-beloved ginger beer. After five years I’ve never felt better.
In all seriousness, it has been the easiest thing I have ever done and my life hasn’t changed.
You will still find me at a bar a couple of nights a week, and I am the first to suggest we go grab a drink after work. The only difference is that my drink is rarely over $5 and I’ll remember everything even when it is a big night.
Going out for a big night is still really fun. With everyone getting loose my own inhibitions let go. Being sober you realise that those sick dance moves are really just people moving their shoulders, hips and sometimes doing a drop. There is nothing special about it.
You get into the headspace of having a laugh and not taking yourself too seriously. I just didn’t need alcohol to take me there. I’m up for a laugh and can get down, but I’ll remember it.
Though it hasn’t all been easy, I have to say.
Not because I was desperate for a drink, no. There is a sense that I have to justify my choice. People want to know why I don’t drink, as if there is some scintillating story behind it.
Unfortunately for them I am quite boring. There was no drunken car crash, I wasn’t an alcoholic, not one big night too many nor a history of alcohol abuse in my family.
Still they look at me confused, and sometimes wary. They struggle to see their life without a drink in their hand while I seem to do it effortlessly.
And I tell them the best reason I have.
Not drinking is really easy so I can’t justify going back.
I started to swap cider for lemon lime and bitters and that was pretty easy. I would feel better the next day, I had more energy and I can have a night out for less than $50.
There’s nothing special about me, you can do it too. Too often we make excuses and dodge things that, in truth, aren’t that hard.
All you have to do is put down your wine and ask for sparkling water with lime. Tastes pretty good, and you can be convinced to have some chips with it.
You end up thinking more about what you put in your body and why. It’s a conversation non-profit Hello Sunday Morning tries to start too, they want to help us rethink our relationship with alcohol.
They cite research which shows 43 per cent of us believe alcohol is the drug of most serious concern to the general community.
Truth is, we know this. Around 1 in 5 drinkers put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the previous 12 months.
When I stopped drinking I started to have more energy and engaging relationships. It made me happier and it took almost no effort. It has been a winner.
I’m not trying to convert my friends to a be teetotallers. The way I see it, alcohol is still part of my life it is just that I don’t drink it.
Giving up alcohol is viewed as a punishment. I see the benefits of being sober everyday, why would I stop?